Skip to main content

PhD thesis

As a graduate student in art history, you make an original contribution to scholarship by completing a thesis on a topic related to historical, modern, or contemporary art.

PhD students should approach a prospective thesis supervisor prior to applying to the program. If a faculty member agrees to supervise a project, they can give some advice in preparing a 5-8 page research proposal for the application.

Once admitted to the program, students are guided by their supervisors as they write a longer thesis proposal, which serves as the basis of their comprehensive examinations. Once students are admitted to candidacy, they work closely with their supervisors who guide them through the research, writing and submission processes.

Timeline at-a-glance

  Convocation date
Spring (no winter fees)  Spring (winter fees) Fall 
Apply to graduate
January 15  January 15  July 15 
Submission to Examination Committee
October 20 (department deadline)  February 11  July 14 
(6 weeks after the submission to the committee) 
December 1  March 25  August 25 
Final Submission to Spectrum
December 31  April 1  September 1 

PhD thesis and defence guidelines

Please see the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) for comprehensive information (deadlines, formatting, examination committee, defence, submission, and graduation), making note of the following information.

University rules governing the formatting, submission and examination of theses are available in the thesis preparation guide.

  • 250-300 double-spaced pages / 80,000 – 100,000 words (plus notes, images, bibliography and other apparatus)
  • Citation Style: Chicago (or another similar citation style that can be used accurately and consistently) 
  • Footnotes (rather than endnotes)
  • Calibri 11 pt or Times New Roman 12 pt font
  • Double spacing is still the norm in Art History although 1.5 is also fine
  • Images may be integrated into the text or in an appendix

When drafting the dissertation, PhD students normally submit one or more chapters to their supervisor (40-50 page each). The supervisor has three weeks per chapter to send feedback to the student. 

The thesis examining committee is composed of five individuals (six in the case of co- supervisions). They include:

  • the thesis advisor(s);
  • the two other members of the thesis committee
    • one of whom is normally from a partner institution
    • an examiner internal to Concordia but outside the Art History department (external-to-program examiner)
  • the external examiner, from outside the three universities.

The members of the examining committee are invited by the thesis supervisor after consultation with the student. To set a date for the defence, the supervisor is advised to contact committee members well in advance (3-4 months is suggested). When scheduling the defence, students and supervisors are advised to plan at least two weeks between the defence and the final submission deadline to allow for minor modifications. Major modifications will take longer to complete.

At least eight weeks prior to the defence: the supervisor obtains a CV from the external examiner, partially completes the Doctoral Thesis Examination Committee Form, and sends both documents to the GPD who signs the form and complete any missing information. The GPD finds a Chair, finalizes the Doctoral Thesis Examination Committee Form, and sends the documents to the GPA.

At least 6 weeks prior to the defence: after consultation with the GPA, the student makes their first submission. Consult the School of Graduate Studies’ Doctoral Thesis Submission page for forms and procedures. The GPA submits the Doctoral Thesis Examination Form to the School of Graduate Studies, together with the external examiner’s CV, prior to or concurrent with the first submission of the thesis.

At least 4 weeks prior to the defence: the School of Gradaute Studies formally invites the examining committee members to attend the defence and provides a copy of the thesis.

At least 2 weeks prior to the defence: all members of the examining committee, including the thesis supervisor, are required to submit an Examiner’s Preliminary Report to the Thesis Office. The external examiner is also requested to submit a detailed report on the thesis.

The thesis is defended orally before the thesis examination committee. A Chair, external to the examining committee, is appointed by the GPD to ensure that all regulations are properly followed. The defence is a public forum, and students are welcome to invite friends and family, who must formally submit any questions to the School of Graduate Studies one week in advance.

The defence begins with a 30-40 minute oral presentation of the thesis by the student. Each examiner then asks questions, which the student answers. The questions are posed and answered formally.

The final decision of the Examining Committee is based both on the thesis itself and the candidate’s ability to defend it.

Once students have completed all the changes requested by their committee, they will send the finalized thesis to the supervisor in PDF/A format, requesting permission to submit on Spectrum. The supervisor responds, cc'ing the Department Assistant and the Graduate Program Director.  Students submit to Spectrum once they have received this permission.

See also

Applying to graduate

The application to graduate is separate from the thesis submission process. There are two graduation application deadlines each year:

  • January 15 – June convocation application deadline
  • July 15 – November convocation application deadline

Ready? Apply to graduate

Visit the Interuniversity PhD website for the most complete and up-to-date information about the PhD program 

Back to top

© Concordia University